If you are someone who suffers from frequent headaches and/ or migraine attacks, you are not alone. In the U.S. alone, more than 38 million people have migraine disease, while some statistics and estimates put the number closer to 50 million, meaning that an estimated 12 percent of adults in the U.S. population have migraines and 4 million of those have chronic migraines. This does not include another large subset of people who deal with other types of headaches, namely sinus and tension headaches.
People who deal with frequent headaches know that they can have serious negative impacts on their quality of life. For example, 9 out of 10 people cannot function normally when they are experiencing a migraine attack. Research shows that 90% of those with migraines miss work during their attacks causing financial security to be a major concern for roughly a third of these people, while 45% of individuals with chronic migraines report that their symptoms are a cause of relationship difficulties. When a quarter of all U.S. households have at least one member who experiences migraines, these symptoms and effects are no small matter of concern. However, almost half of all people with migraines have not been diagnosed despite migraine conditions being the third most prevalent and sixth most debilitating illness across the globe.
If you have dealt with frequent headaches and migraines before, it is likely that you have searched high and low for treatments for these debilitating conditions, and you may be wondering what on earth could be causing these painful symptoms to occur to you. Several prescription drugs treat migraines, but these migraine medicines often come with unwanted side effects. Luckily, there is some good news: more and more people are turning to natural alternatives to treat their migraines, and there is increasing information about various vitamins for headache relief that can help mitigate your symptoms without the unwanted side effects.
Knowing how to go about your headache treatment plan can be a difficult process, but we are here to help. In this article, we give you all the information you need about the best supplements for headaches. With this information in hand, you will hopefully begin to start to treat your headaches with new confidence.
The Types and Causes of Headaches
The most common types of headaches are sinus, tension, and migraine headaches. The physiological causes of these different types of headaches differ: sinus headaches usually occur when there is infection or pressure in the sinuses. Tension headaches strike when then muscles in the head and neck tighten. Migraines, on the other hand, come about when the supersensitive nerve endings in the brain create pain.
The external causes of the different types of causes also differ and will vary by the individual. However, some general triggers are known,
One of the most common causes of sinus headaches are allergies and viral infections. These triggers cause inflammation and pressure within the sinus cavities of the skull, resulting in symptoms of pain and tenderness of the affected area.
The causes of tension headaches are a little lesser known than those for sinus headaches but some common triggers include stress, lack of sleep, fatigue, hunger, caffeine withdrawal, weather changes, and the consumption of food and drinks such as chocolate, alcohol, and processed foods that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Even less understood are the triggers that cause the nerve endings to cause the pain associated with migraines, though some common triggers are being around smoke, certain smells, bright light, foods, such as aged cheeses, avocados, bananas, chocolate, peas, pork, sour cream, nuts, peanut butter and yogurt, changes in estrogen levels in women, abrupt cessation of caffeine consumption, and food additives, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and nitrates.
What many people did not consider in the past was that various vitamins might have a serious role to play in headache and migraine relief. This is no longer overlooked with numerous studies confirming that deficiencies from a number of vitamins and minerals have been shown to increase the frequency of headaches and even cause migraines. In what follows, we will outline both vitamins that have a proactive effect on treating headaches and relieving pain and highlight the vitamins that you will want to be sure not have a deficiency of to prevent the occurrence of headaches and migraines.
Supplements for Headaches
Feverfew is a flower that is a member of the daisy family that has been used in many cultures for centuries to help treat and prevent headaches and other health problems. In particular, feverfew has been thought to reduce the pain from (and in some cases even prevent) migraine headaches because of its anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the production of prostaglandins, inflammatory molecules, and in doing so, reduce inflammation in the blood vessels in the head (which is believed to be one of the main triggers for migraine pain).
The strongest evidence for the effectiveness of feverfew comes from a 2002 study published in the medical journal, Cephalalgia, that evaluated the effectiveness of doses of the herb on migraine patients and found that feverfew was, in fact, an effective migraine relief supplement.
Other studies also show that parthenolide, a compound found in feverfew, may inhibit serotonin receptors, prevent blood palates from releasing inflammatory molecules, stop blood vessels in the brain from widening through vasodilation, and stop the overall frequency of smooth muscle spasms, all of which are factors that have been frequently linked to migraines.
2. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a nutrient that occurs naturally in the body that plays a role in a number of important bodily functions, such as protecting cells from free radicals and oxidative damage through its antioxidant properties and helping mitochondria functioning to produce energy in our body’s cells. Additionally, CoQ10 is has shown to be a promising alternative treatment for migraines.
Specifically, CoQ10 is thought to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. One notable study found that among 31 migraine patients who took 150 mg of CoQ10 daily for three months, 61% of them reported at least a 50% reduction in the number of days that they had migraine attacks, while another study of 42 migraine sufferers found that those who took a coenzyme Q10 supplement of 100 mg three times daily were three times more likely than those in the placebo group to experience a reduction in the number of migraine attacks.
Studies also find that CoQ10 can be especially beneficial for children and young adult migraine sufferers. A study of 1,550 migraine patients aged 3 to 22 measured the participants’ levels of CoQ10 and found that 33 percent had low levels of CoQ10. The patients with low levels of this nutrient were then given coenzyme Q10 supplements and afterward experienced fewer migraine attacks and less debilitating effects when migraine attacks did occur.
Coenzyme Q10 can be found in dietary supplements, but there are also a number of dietary sources of this nutrient. Organ meats (heart, liver, and kidney), some muscle meats (pork, beef, and chicken), fatty fish (trout, herring, mackerel, and sardine), vegetables (spinach, cauliflower, and broccoli, fruit (oranges and strawberries), and legumes (soybeans, lentils, and peanuts) have all shown to be substantive sources of CoQ10.
Like feverfew, butterbur is another anti-inflammatory herb. It has been used to treat upset stomach, stomach ulcers, ongoing coughs, chills, anxiety, fever, insomnia, and hay fever. On top of all of that, butterbur has been significantly studied for its ability to prevent migraine attacks. It has not been shown to be effective for treating acute migraines once they have already started, but for preventing the overall frequency and occurrence of migraine attacks, taking approximately 75 mg of butterbur twice a day has shown to be quite helpful.
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is a member of the B-vitamins complex that plays major roles in many of the body’s functions, including the conversion of food into fuel. In particular, riboflavin in high doses is thought to affect the way that cells metabolize energy in a way that can be beneficial to the treatment of migraines.
A research review published by the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research found that riboflavin could play a positive role in reducing the frequency and duration of migraine attacks. Additionally, those who have riboflavin deficiency are more prone to migraine attacks.
The recommended dose of vitamin B2 for the treatment of migraines is 400 mg daily, which is up to four times the typical recommended daily dose for healthy people. For this reason, you will want to converse with a physician before taking B2 for your migraine treatment.
If you choose to go with riboflavin, then you have a number of great options for supplements. Tropical Oasis offers an incredible Premium Liquid B-Complex with all the great b-vitamins and the benefits that come with them, as well as a number of high quality and highly absorbable liquid multivitamin supplements that contain riboflavin along with many of the other essential nutrients one needs for optimal health.
Additionally, riboflavin can be found in a number of food sources, such as animal products like eggs, kidneys, liver, lean meats, and low-fat milk, green vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, and spinach, and fortified cereals, bread, and whole-grain products.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that our bodies need to function properly in a number of areas. An adequate amount of magnesium can improve bone health, stabilize blood pressure, help maintain healthy heart rhythms, and promote optimal nerve functioning. On the other hand, magnesium deficiencies can produce symptoms of fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle cramping, and muscle contractions.
Additionally, low levels of magnesium have been consistently linked to increased frequency and severity of headaches and migraines with research showing that people with migraines often have lower levels of magnesium than those without them. Unfortunately, many people in the United States have lower than optimal magnesium levels with one study finding that 75 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their diet.
Research points to the fact that magnesium supplementation may be an incredibly useful treatment for migraines. One study significantly found that regular intake of magnesium reduced the frequency of migraine attacks by a whopping 41.6 percent, while other research shows that taking magnesium supplements on a day to day basis can be effective in preventing the occurrence of menstrual-related migraines, one of the most common types of migraines among women.
Many people opt to up their magnesium intake through high-quality magnesium supplements, but many will also want to make sure that they are getting enough magnesium from their diet as well.
Some of the top magnesium-rich foods include dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, legumes, tofu, seeds, whole grains, some fatty fish, bananas, and leafy greens. Luckily for those who are also trying to up their riboflavin intake, many of the foods that are rich in magnesium are also rich in riboflavin, allowing you to get your magnesium, riboflavin fix in the same meal.
6. Vitamin D
The sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, which is produced by the body when the sunlight touches the skin, plays a significant role in the body’s regulation of calcium and is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth and supporting the immune system.
The exact effects of vitamin D on migraines are unclear, but one thing is for sure: vitamin d deficiency is associated with a number of serious symptoms including a lower functioning immune system, fatigue and tiredness, bone and back pain, depression, muscle pain, hair loss, and that’s right: a far greater risk of headaches and migraines.
Despite all of these symptoms, the fact is that vitamin d deficiency is incredibly common. It is estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide have lowe levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream and that 41.6 of U.S. adults are deficient.
Although research into the effect of vitamin D supplementation on migraines is still in its beginning stages, the studies conducted by professionals in the field of migraine therapy are positive.
A nine-month study published in the December 2015 issue of the medical journal, Annals of Neurology, found that combining vitamin D3 and a cholesterol-lowering drug called simvastatin reduced the number of migraines by eight to nine per month among migraine patients. Another study showed that vitamin D supplementation by itself had the potential to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
What might seem to be the easiest way to up our vitamin D intake is to go outside more often. Professionals recommend that people should aim to get 10-30 minutes of midday sunlight, several times per week. Of course, we live busy lives which often do not permit us to easily get as much sunlight as we would like, and therefore, we must try to get enough through our diets or through vitamin d supplements.
Foods that are high in vitamin D include fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon, some dairy products, such as cheese, and animal products, such as beef liver and egg yolks.
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in your brain when your body senses that it is dark outside (and is not produced in sunlight or bright environments). Melatonin supplements have mostly been studied for their ability to make you sleepy and reduce stress, but recent research has suggested that this hormone may also have great effects for treating migraines.
A study published by the medical journal, Headache, found that patients with chronic migraines tend to have abnormally low levels of melatonin. Other research, such as a study published by the journal, Neurology, found that 3 mg daily doses of melatonin helped reduce the frequency of migraines, with more than three-quarters of participants reporting at least a 50 percent reduction in migraine attacks.
However, another more recent clinical trial, also published in Neurology, found that placebo treatments were just as effective as melatonin for preventing migraines, with people in both treatment groups (the placebo group and the melatonin group) experiencing a reduction in the frequency of their migraines. This points to the fact that although research on the effects of melatonin on migraines is somewhat mixed, the possibilities still seem positive.
Given the variety of supplements for headaches, many people may be attracted to the idea of efficiently getting many or all of the migraine helping vitamins through a multivitamin, along with many other vitamins with benefits all across the body’s functions. In fact, multivitamins are one of the most popular methods for treating deficiencies across the board. However, there is one worry for some people which takes the form of the question: “can multivitamins cause headaches?”
If multivitamins are taken as directed, no serious side effects should be expected. Still, some research has pointed to the fact that taking too many vitamins has the potential side effect of causing headaches, which is, of course, what we are trying to avoid.
Although multivitamins have the incredible benefit of covering a wide range of vitamins in a single pill, they do mean that the vitamin-taker sacrifices a bit of control. If you experience headaches when you take multivitamins, the problem may not be that you are taking dietary supplements, but rather that through a multivitamin, you are getting too much of a vitamin you already get enough of, even if the multivitamin is helping you to get to the proper levels for a variety of other vitamins. If you do experience the side effect of a headache when taking your multivitamin, you may want to consider taking more specialized vitamins to take care of only the vitamins you are not getting enough of.
Moving Forward with a Migraine Treatment Plan
Headaches and migraines significantly lower the quality of life for a large number of Americans, and if you suffer from chronic headaches, you know the importance of finding an effective treatment. For many people, the various vitamins for headache treatment that we have listed throughout the article can do just the trick.
Taking vitamins to treat your migraines is not only a natural alternative to the various migraine medicines and the side effects associated with them, but they may also get to the root of the problem. Vitamin deficiencies have been shown to play a large role in whether or not someone will have a migraine so in addition to the proactive roles many vitamins play in the prevention and treatment of migraines, making sure you do not have any vitamin deficiencies in the first place can seriously contribute to your migraine treatment. When it comes to the best supplements for headaches, Tropical Oasis has got you covered!